As I was putting dinner in the oven tonight (roast chicken, in case you were wondering), I began to reconsider sharing this post. I fear people being offended. I fear people thinking the wrong thing. But, the Holy Spirit nudged me along. Keep going, Caroline. This isn’t for you.
That means it might be for you.
I’m challenged by this call. Sometimes, more than other times. However, there’s no turning back. I mean, frankly, Doug and I have had that conversation more than once. Each time, we know. We know before the conversation even begins. I suppose that’s why we find ourselves seeking the Lord for confirmation about once a year: Are we really in Your will, Lord? Did we really hear You right? Even though this happened, and that happened, and this one is mad at us, and we screwed up over here?
It has been a long summer. Doug and I look at each other some times with a weariness that is really almost comical. Last week, one our leaders was sharing a prayer need, and then he suddenly stopped and said, “You know, this ministry is just really hard.” I started laughing. Pretty soon, another leader was laughing with me. Yeah! It’s HARD. You put your whole heart out there, just to have people smash it in your face. You pick up the pieces, pray for them, and go back and do it, again. Love, acceptance, and forgiveness rule the day. Day after day after day. We trust God has our back, and He always does. One day, we hope, we’ll get to stand in His presence and find out we did at least one thing right.
In January of 2005, our first Winter on this mission field, the Holy Spirit gave me a sort of vision. This was a critical time for us. We had been living by faith for only a short time, and New Brother’s Fellowship had only just begun. Yet, we were really in a hard place financially. It was embarrassing. I’d never seen my refrigerator and cupboards so empty. Every day, I would ask the Lord to help me make a meal for my family, and every day He did, but it was hard for me. I’d been living a pretty cushy life, until then.
We described our life back then as though the Holy Spirit had said, “Do you see that cliff?”
“Well,” He’d replied, “I want to go right to the edge.”
Oh, that’s scary, but OK, Lord. We’ll do it. We made our way to that edge, faith-filled, and even eager to have this chance to respond to such a specific call on our lives. Putting our fears behind us, we made it right to the edge and breathed a deep sigh of relief. We smiled at one another, even felt a bit accomplished. Squeezed each other’s hands. We did it!
Then, the Holy Spirit completed His instructions.
“OK. Great, Doug and Caroline. Thank you. You’re in the right position now to do what I’m asking you to do.”
But, Lord, we did it. We’re here, on the edge. Livin’ on the edge! See?
“No, My will is there.” He pointed down, over the edge. “You’ll have to jump.”
It was safety and security, or free fall. All these years later, we’re still in free fall. We had no choice.
One day, I am going to stand before the Lord. Oh! The thought makes my heart race and eyes fill with tears. Just imagine it, my friends. Jesus. Face to foot—well, there’s no way I’ll be able to stand and look Him in the face, you know? I’ll be at His dear, wounded feet, washing them with my tears of gladness and gratitude. In that moment, I’ll be regretting the spit I ran from, the hurt I refused to suffer. I’ll be wishing I’d been entrusted with more suffering for His name’s sake. The fullness of His sacrifice for me will suddenly be real, and I can only imagine what that will mean to me, but I think these moments of trials and frustration and trouble will become like steam from my tea cup—gone away in a moment.
Doug wrote a status on Facebook recently that was spot on:
“At what point did you think it was going to feel good to reckon yourself Crucified with Christ?” (Doug Gregan)
I really want it to feel good right now. I want my life to be easy. Comfortable. I like easy. I like soft and cushy.
Yet, I want Jesus! I want more of Him, and so much less of me, and that means I need to stop keeping me alive. I have to stop feeding my flesh, so that it dies away. That’s hard, but if I’m already trusting Him to give me a safe landing one day, I should be able to trust Him with all of me.
Yes, this past summer has been kinda hard. Heck, these past two-and-a-half years have been kinda hard. I think something about turning 50 just started messing with me. The reality of this life my husband and I live really smashed me in the face. What are we doing? While other people our age are planing for their retirement, Doug and I are living one day at a time, counting on the Lord to bring the balance to our accounts and help us get by until then. This is not the life I expected, and it’s not the life I wanted.
Wanted. Past tense. You see, it really is the life I want now, because it’s the life God has given us. My solution to the challenge is to just stop being so human. I’m not just a woman of flesh. I am called to reckon myself dead, and to let the life of Christ live through me. That’s the spiritual life I should be living every day. You read my blog, so you know I’m not succeeding in doing that, but I will go to bed relying on His mercies and wake-up trusting in His grace. It’s all I can do.
This is a snippet from a great message on this subject that Doug preached on Easter this year. It speaks to exactly the matter I’ve discussed here. God bless you all who are struggling to reckon yourselves dead to this life. It’s not easy, but His mercy and grace is there for you, too.